Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Council advances Lamppa Manufacturing facility

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 4/11/18

TOWER—Progress on the new manufacturing facility here that will soon be the new home of Lamppa Manufacturing is continuing on track following several actions by the city council here on Monday. …

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Council advances Lamppa Manufacturing facility

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TOWER—Progress on the new manufacturing facility here that will soon be the new home of Lamppa Manufacturing is continuing on track following several actions by the city council here on Monday.

The council, minus Brad Matich who was absent, voted to authorize SEH to solicit bids for the project, which is currently scheduled to begin construction in June in the city’s industrial park on the west end of town.

The council also gave the green light to a ten-year lease between Lamppa Manufacturing and the Tower Economic Development Authority that includes a gradually escalating rental rate, beginning at $1,200 a month for the first two years. That would escalate to $2,625 per month by the final three years of the lease term, although the lease rate could change should the company opt to expand its operations into the entire building. As currently planned, Lamppa Manufacturing will occupy half of the space in the facility, with the remainder available for rent to another business or for expansion of Lamppa’s wood furnace and stove-making operation. City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith said she was asking for council approval to the lease even though it had not yet been approved by TEDA. The lease was on TEDA’s agenda last week, but the authority couldn’t meet officially due to the lack of a quorum. But to keep the project on its current schedule, Keith said she needed the lease approved.

The council also authorized application to the IRRRB for a non-recourse loan to pay for the construction of the new manufacturing facility. The non-recourse loan is a standard one used by the IRRRB to limit the risk to communities that invest in economic development projects. Under the deal, the city can make payments as lease revenue is available, without risk of foreclosure. It’s the same arrangement that cleared the way for construction of the Powerain building, which the city subsequently renovated to make way for the Vermilion Country School.

In other economic development action, the council approved the purchase of wetland credits for a total cost of $39,376 to clear the way for the filling of wetlands on the southwest edge of the planned harbor town home development. The wetland impact will be necessary to make way for a new access road that the city will build as part of its role in the overall project.

The city would have the option of rescinding its purchase should the project not move forward, but city engineer Jason Chopp said buying the credits now guaranteed that they would be available when needed for the project.

Under the current timeline, city officials expect to have all the necessary permits in hand for the project by July, which should allow for construction to begin shortly thereafter.

In other business, the council:

 Tabled action on a request for sidewalk repairs in front of the Scenic Rivers clinic. In an email to the city on April 3, clinic site manager Valerie Turnbull said the sidewalk in front of the clinic was uneven and frequently icy, and that a number of patients had fallen, in some cases requiring hospitalization. Keith said the city has other problem sidewalks as well that should be looked at, but that no action should be taken until the frost is gone. Several sections of sidewalk around the city have heaved badly this year due to frost.

 Approved a change in status and pay for some ambulance service personnel, eliminating the assistant position previously held by Kim Mattila and cutting Dena Suikhonen’s pay as assistant director from the current $400 per month to $200 per month. Meanwhile, assistant director Josh Villebrun will receive a pay increase, from $300 per month to $400 per month.

Ambulance Supervisor Steve Altenburg indicated that the reductions were made possible by the recent shift to paid-on-call staffing, since some of the on-call staff would be conducting ambulance checks during the week. The ambulance service now has two Emergency Medical Responders working five 12-hours shifts per week, while an EMT is working one 60-hour shift. A second EMT, who had been hired, is unable to start at this point due to an injury.

 Accepted a $225,000 grant from the IRRRB for the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center, but not without expressing some displeasure with the organization. “This is another situation where people are going to the IRRRB without coming through the city,” said Mayor Josh Carlson.

“Groups in town should be reminded that, at the end of the day, they need to come through the city. If it’s a group in the city, it’s a request from the city,” he added. The grant award will provide partial funding for needed roof repairs to the center, which is still under development.

 Approved the expenditure of just over $3,000 for the purchase of equipment to allow for a secure entry system at the Vermilion Country School building, which the city owns. The school will pay the $600 installation fee.

 Approved a cooperative agreement with the Tower DNR for wildland fire coverage.

 Appointed Linda Keith as head election judge and Terri Joki-Martin as deputy head election judge for the upcoming elections. The council also appointed Marjorie Johnson as the emergency head election judge in case neither Keith nor Joki-Martin was available.

 Heard a report from Keith on her plan to request about $8,000 for new accounting software. She said the current program is prone to glitches that have cost her a significant amount of time.

 Accepted the latest drinking water report from the Minnesota Department of Health, which showed that the Tower-Breitung water remains in compliance with safety standards.

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Lee Peterson

$225,000 IRRRRRB grant to provide "partial" funding for needed roof repairs on the Lake Vermilion Cultural Center? Wow.

Sunday, April 15